COMMUNITY ENRICHMENT THROUGH HOUSING DIVERSITY

The National Handicap Housing Institute, Inc. (NHHI) is a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation established in 1975 for the express purpose of improving the independent lifestyles of persons with physical disabilities, specifically mobility impairments.

Barrier Free Housing

NHHI provides services related to the development, design, financing, marketing and management of barrier free, affordable housing for very low-income adults with physical disabilities.

As the nation's premier organization in the field, NHHI has developed over 2,000 units of specialized housing in the past thirty-one years. In addition, NHHI has provided design related services, marketing, consultation and property management activities to numerous other housing developments.

NHHI has developed barrier free housing in communities throughout the country and twenty buildings in Minnesota. NHHI is recognized as being one of the single most important consumer forces behind the advancement of the housing needs of individuals who are mobility impaired.

As one of the nation's leading consumer community developers of accessible affordable housing for very low-income adults with physical disabilities, NHHI offers a viable alternative to long term institutionalization. As a valuable community service, NHHI has also served as an information and referral source for the availability of very low-income accessible housing. This has maintained NHHI's presence among service organizations, state and community agencies and, most importantly, consumer network systems. With few exceptions, no significant housing development promoting independent living for individuals with mobility impairments has occurred in Minnesota without at least some involvement by NHHI.

Combined with a commitment to the principles of independent living, NHHI's pioneering success in the field has had, and continues to have, a major impact on the design, production and utilization of affordable, barrier free housing.

NHHI has conducted research on barrier free housing design and developed architectural and product specification standards that are functional and affordable. In this regard, model kitchens and bathrooms have been built to test accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Appliances, building hardware, cabinetry, bathroom and kitchen equipment, among others have been extensively examined for their use by persons with disabilities. NHHI has also surveyed the housing needs and preferences of individuals with disabilities, as well as location preferences to determine what housing features are needed to overcome problems resulting from specific disabilities.

NHHI has developed the design expertise necessary to assist architects, builders and owners with many of their problems in creating new buildings and adapting older structures to be accessible through the interpretation of pertinent building codes and making recommendations that meet and exceed those codes functionally and aesthetically at minimal cost. In this regard, NHHI staff responds to design related inquiries for assistance, working with public bodies, private industry, organizations and individuals providing code interpretations, conducting facilities surveys and making design recommendations for handicap accessibility within single family homes, public buildings and private facilities.

NHHI also reviews plans, blueprints and building specifications for modification of new construction and renovation to determine functional use-ability and code compliance. Information on hardware, equipment and appliances is also available to ensure that specific products fulfill the functional use requirements for individuals with disabilities.

It is the firm conviction of those involved in NHHI's developments that affordable, accessible housing is the key to helping adults with mobility impairments realize their full potential and to take their rightful place as participating and contributing members of the communities in which they live. Further, NHHI sees individuals with disabilities as a genuine source of community enrichment. Their increased freedom and growth stands as a victory in which everyone shares and one that contributes to community strength and personal freedom.